Content with images performs better than plain text content. Yet a website’s images are an area of optimization that businesses frequently ignore.
Check for these essential elements when optimizing images for search:
- Image selection: Choose an image that relates to the subject matter of your content. Beyond being relevant, an image that’s original (such as a photo you stage and shoot yourself) has more value from an SEO and branding perspective, since it will be unique.
- Honor copyrights: If you do use stock photos, make sure to pay any required license fees and give proper attribution. (SEO Tip: You can search for royalty-free or “creative commons” images, but be careful since each individual image may have its own usage requirements.) Images with trademarks or logos can also be tricky; check the owner’s legal requirements to make sure your user is permissible.
- File format: Save the image in a format search engines can index. With most image editors, you can save the file as a PNG, JPEG or GIF.
- Name: Describe the picture using the appropriate keyword(s) within the file name.
- Alt text: Include brief text describing the image in an alt attribute (in the HTML image tag). This text can be read by both search engines and people (especially the visually impaired, who use screen-reader software to “read” a page).
SEO Tip: With linked images, search engines treat the alt attribute as the link anchor text.
- Text support: Give the image context by describing it in a caption and in the surrounding text, including the keywords you used in the file name and alt attribute.
- Size: File size matters on the web. Keeping image file sizes small helps your pages load quickly, which is vital particularly for a good mobile user experience.
SEO Tips: Make the browser’s job of displaying your images easier. Resize each image before uploading it to your website, and specify height and width attributes in the image tag.
- Sitemap: (Optional) Create an image XML Sitemap that lists all your images, and then submit it to the search engines for increased visibility within image search. (See Step 9 for more on creating XML Sitemaps.)